Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925) was the leading intellectual figure in the western-influenced nationalist movement which had overthrown the Manchu dynasty in China in 1911. The lecture from which this extract is taken was given in 1924.The population of the world today is approximately a billion and a half. One fourth of this number live in China, which means that one out of every four persons in the world is a Chinese. The total population of the white races of Europe also amounts to four hundred millions. The white division of mankind, which is now the most flourishing, includes four races: in central and northern Europe, the Teutons, who have founded many states, the largest of which is Germany, others being Austria, Sweden, Norway, Holland, and Denmark; in eastern Europe, the Slavs, who also have founded a number of states, the largest being Russia, and, after the European war, the new countries of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia; in western Europe, the Saxons or Anglo-Saxons, who have founded two large states England and the United States of America; in southern Europe, the Latins, who have founded several states, the largest being France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal, and who have migrated to South America forming states there just as the Anglo-Saxons migrated to North America and built up Canada and the United States. The white peoples of Europe, now numbering only four hundred million persons, are divided into four great stocks which have estab-lished many states. Because the national spirit of the white race was highly developed, when they had filled up the European continent they expanded to North and South America in the Western Hemisphere and to Africa and Australia in the southern and eastern parts of the Eastern Hemisphere.
From San Min Chit I (The Three Principles of the People), by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, tr. F.W. Price, Shanghai, 1929, pp. 77-100.
The Anglo-Saxons at present occupy more space on the globe than any other race. Although this race originated in Europe, the only European soil it holds are the British Isles—England, Scotland and Ireland—which occupy about the same position in the Atlantic that Japan occupies in the Pacific. The Anglo-Saxons have extended their territory westward to North America, eastward to Australia and New Zealand, and south-ward to Africa until they possess more land and are wealthier and stronger than any other race. Before the European war the Teutons and the Slavs were the strongest races; moreover, by reason of the sagacity and ability of the Teutonic peoples, Ger-many was able to unite more than twenty small states into a great German confederation. At the beginning an agricultural nation, it developed into an industrial nation and through industrial prosperity its army and navy became exceedingly powerful.
Before the European war all the European nations had been poisoned by imperialism. What is imperialism? It is the policy of aggression upon other countries by means of political force, or, in the Chinese phrase, "long-range aggression." As all the peoples of Europe were imbued with this policy, wars were continually breaking out; almost every decade had at least one small war and each century one big war. The greatest of all was the recent European war, which may be called the World War because it finally involved the whole world and pulled every nation and people into its vortex. The causes of the European war were, first, the rivalry between the Saxon and Teutonic races for control of the sea. Germany in her rise to greatness had developed her navy until she was the second sea power in the world; Great Britain wanted her own navy to rule the seas 59 she tried to destroy Germany, whose sea power was next to hers. From this struggle for first place on the sea came the war.
A second cause was each nation's struggle for more territory. In eastern Europe there is a weak state called Turkey. For the past hundred years the people of the world have called it the "sick man of Europe." Because the government was unenlight-ened and the sultan was despotic, it became extremely helpless and the European nations wanted to partition it. Because the Turkish question had not been solved for a century and every nation of Europe was trying to solve it, war resulted. The first cause of the European war, then, was the struggle between white races for supremacy; the second cause was the effort to solve critical world problems. If Germany had won the war, she would have held the supreme power on the sea after the war and Great Britain would have lost all her territory, breaking into pieces like the old Roman Empire. But the result of the war was defeat for Germany and the failure of her imperialistic designs.
The recent European war was the most dreadful war in the history of the world. Forty to fifty million men were under arms for a period of four years, and near the end of the war they still could not be divided into conquerors and vanquished. One side in the war was called the Entente; the other side, the Allied Powers. The Allied Powers* at first included Germany and Austria; Turkey and Bulgaria later joined them. The Entente Powers** at first were Serbia, France, Russia, England, and Ja-pan; Italy and the United States joined afterwards. The United States' entry into the war was due entirely to racial considera-tions. During the first two years of the war Germany and Austria were in the ascendancy. Paris and the English Channel were almost captured by the German and Austrian armies. The Teu-tons thought that Great Britain was certainly done for, and the British themselves were thoroughly alarmed. Seeing that the American people are of the same race as they, the British used the plea of race relationship to stir up the people of the United States. When America realized that England, of her own race, was in danger of being destroyed by Germany, of an alien race, inevitably "the creature sorrowed for its kind" and America threw in her lot with England to defend the existence of the Anglo-Saxons. Moreover, fearing that her own strength would be insufficient, America tried with all her might to arouse all the neutral countries of the world to join in the war to defeat Germany.
During the war there was a great phrase, used by President Wilson and warmly received everywhere "self-determination of peoples." Because Germany was striving by military force to crush the peoples of the European Entente, Wilson proposed destroying Germany's power and giving autonomy henceforth to the weaker and smaller peoples. His idea met a world wel-come, and although the common people of India still opposed Great Britain, their destroyer, yet many small peoples, when they heard Wilson say that the war was for the freedom of the weak and small peoples, gladly gave aid to Great Britain. Al-though Annam had been subjugated by France and the common people hated the French tyranny, yet during the war they still helped France to fight, also because they had heard of Wilson's just proposition. And the reason why other small peoples of Europe, such as Poland, Czechoslovakia and Romania, all en-listed on the side of the Entente against the Allied Powers was because of the self-determination principle enunciated by Presi-dent Wilson. China, too, under the inspiration of the United States, entered the war; although she sent no armies, yet she did contribute hundreds of thousands of laborers to dig trenches and to work behind the lines. As a result of the noble theme pro-pounded by the Entente all the oppressed peoples of Europe and of Asia finally joined together to help them in their struggle against the Allied Powers. At the same time, Wilson proposed, to guard the future peace of the world, fourteen points, of which the most important was that each people should have the right of self-determination. When victory and defeat still hung in the balance, England and France heartily endorsed these points, but when victory was won and the Peace Conference was opened, England, France, and Italy realized that Wilson's proposal of freedom for nations conflicted too seriously with the interests of imperialism; and so, during the conference, they used all kinds of methods to explain away Wilson's principles. The result was a peace treaty with most unjust terms; the weaker, smaller na-tions not only did not secure self-determination and freedom but found themselves under an oppression more terrible than before. This shows that the strong states and the powerful races have already forced possession of the globe and that the rights and privileges of other states and nations are monopolized by them. Hoping to make themselves forever secure in their exclusive position and to prevent the smaller and weaker peoples from again reviving, they sing praises to cosmopolitanism, saying that nationalism is too narrow; really their espousal of international-ism is but imperialism and aggression in another guise.
But Wilson's proposals, once set forth, could not be recalled; each one of the weaker, smaller nations who had helped the Entente to defeat the Allied Powers and had hoped to attain freedom as a fruit of the victory was doomed to bitter disappoint-ment by the results of the Peace Conference. Then Annam, Burma, Java, India, the Malay Archipelago, Turkey, Persia, Af-ghanistan, Egypt, and the scores of weak nations in Europe were stirred with a great, new consciousness; they saw how com-pletely they had been deceived by the Great Powers' advocacy of self-determination and began independently and separately to carry out the principle of the "self-determination of peoples." Many years of fierce warfare had not been able to destroy imperialism because this was a conflict of imperialisms between states, not a struggle between savagery and civilization or be-tween Might and Right. So the effect of the war was merely the overthrow of one imperialism by another imperialism; what sur-vived was still imperialism. But from the war there was uncon-sciously born in the heart of mankind a great hope the Russian Revolution. The Russian Revolution had begun much earlier, as far back as 1905, but had not accomplished its purpose. Now during the European war the efforts of the revolutionists were crowned with success. The reason for the outbreak of revolution again at this time was the great awakening of the people as a result of their war experience. Russia sent over ten million soldiers into the field—not a puny force. Without Russia's part in the war, the Entente's line on the western front would long before have been smashed by Germany; because Russia was embarrassing the Germans on the eastern front, the Entente Powers were able to break even with Germany for two or three years and finally turn defeat into victory. Just halfway through the war, Russia began to reflect, and she realized that in helping the Entente to fight Germany she was merely helping several brute forces to fight one brute force and that no good results would come of it in the end. A group of soldiers and citizens awoke, broke away from the Entente, and concluded a separate peace with Germany.
As far as their legitimate national interests were concerned, the German and the Russian people had absolutely no cause for quarrel; but when it came to imperialistic designs, they vied with each other in aggressions until conflict was inevitable. Moreover, Germany went so far beyond bounds that Russia, in self-protec-tion, could not but move in accord with England, France, and the others. Later, when the Russian people awoke and saw that imperialism was wrong, they started a revolution within their own country, first overthrowing their own imperialism; at the same time, to avoid foreign embarrassments, they made peace with Germany. Before long, the Entente also signed a peace with Germany and then all sent soldiers to fight Russia. Why? Be-cause the Russian people had awakened to the fact that their daily sufferings were due to imperialism and that to get rid of their sufferings they must eliminate imperialism and embrace self-determination. Every other nation opposed this policy and so mobilized to fight Russia, yet Russia's proposal and Wilson's . were undesignedly similar; both declared that the weaker, smaller nations had the right of self-determination and freedom. When Russia proclaimed this principle, the weaker, smaller peo-ples of the world gave their eager support to it and all together began to seek self-determination. The calamitous war through which Europe had passed brought, of course, no great imperialis-tic gain, but, because of the Russian Revolution, a great hope was born in the heart of mankind.
Of the billion and a half people in the world, the most powerful are the four hundred million whites on the European and Ameri-can continents; from this base the white races have started out to swallow up other races. The American red aborigines are gone, the African blacks will soon be exterminated, the brown race of India is in the process of dissolution, the yellow races of Asia are now being subjected to the white man's oppression and may, before long, be wiped out.
But the one hundred fifty million Russians, when their revolu-tion succeeded, broke with the other white races and condemned the white man's imperialistic behavior; now they are thinking of throwing in their lot with the weaker, smaller peoples of Asia in a struggle against the tyrannical races. So only two hundred fifty million of tyrannical races are left, but they are still trying by inhuman methods and military force to subjugate the other twelve hundred fifty million. So hereafter mankind will be di-vided into two camps: on one side will be the twelve hundred fifty million; on the other side, the two hundred fifty million. Although the latter group are in the minority, yet they hold the most powerful positions on the globe and their political and economic strength is immense. With these two forces they are out to exploit the weaker and smaller races. If the political arm of navies and armies is not strong enough, they bear down with economic pressure. If their economic arm is at times weak, they intervene with political force of navies and armies. The way their political power cooperates with their economic power is like the way in which the left arm helps the right arm; with their two arms they have crushed most terribly the twelve hundred fifty million. But "Heaven does not always follow man's desires." The Slavic race of one hundred fifty million suddenly rose up and struck a blow at imperialism and capitalism, warring for mankind against inequality. In my last lecture I told of the Russian who said, "The reason why the Powers have so defamed Lenin is because he dared to assert that the twelve hundred fifty million majority in the world were being oppressed by the two hundred fifty million minority." Lenin not only said this, but also ad-vocated self-determination for the oppressed peoples and launched a campaign for them against injustice. The powers attacked Lenin because they wanted to destroy a prophet and a seer of mankind and obtain security for themselves. But the people of the world now have their eyes opened and know that the rumors created by the powers are false; they will not let themselves be deceived again. The political thinking of the peo-ples of the world has been enlightened to this extent.
Now we want to revive China's lost nationalism and use the strength of our four hundred million to fight for mankind against injustice; this is our divine mission. The powers are afraid that we will have such thoughts and are setting forth a specious doctrine. They are now advocating cosmopolitanism to inflame us, declaring that, as the civilization of the world advances and as mankind's vision enlarges, nationalism becomes too narrow, unsuited to the present age, and hence that we should espouse cosmopolitanism. In recent years some of China's youths, de-votees of the new culture, have been opposing nationalism, led astray by this doctrine. But it is not a doctrine which wronged races should talk about. We, the wronged races, must first recover our position of national freedom and equality before we are fit to discuss cosmopolitanism. The illustration I used in my last lecture of the coolie who won first prize in the lottery has already made this very clear. The lottery ticket represents cos-mopolitanism; the bamboo pole, nationalism. The coolie, on win-ning first prize, immediately threw away his pole* just as we, fooled by the promises of cosmopolitanism, have discarded our nationalism. We must understand that cosmopolitanism grows out of nationalism; if we want to extend cosmopolitanism we must first establish strongly our own nationalism. If nationalism cannot become strong, cosmopolitanism certainly cannot pros-per. Thus we see that cosmopolitanism is hidden inside the bam-boo pole; if we discard nationalism and go and talk cosmopolitanism we are just like the coolie who threw his bam-boo pole into the sea. We put the cart before the horse. I said before that our position is not equal to that of the Annamese or the Koreans; they are subject peoples and slaves while we cannot even be called slaves. Yet we discourse about cosmopolitanism and say that we do not need nationalism. Gentlemen, is this reasonable?
According to history, our four hundred million Chinese have also come down the road of imperialism. Our forefathers con-stantly employed political force to encroach upon weaker and smaller nations; but economic force in those days was not a serious thing, so we were not guilty of economic oppression of other peoples. Then compare China's culture with Europe's an-cient culture. The Golden Age of European culture was in the time of Greece and Rome, yet Rome at the height of its power was contemporaneous with as late a dynasty in China as the Han. At that time China's political thinking was very profound; many orators were earnestly opposing imperialism and much anti-imperialistic literature was produced, the most famous be-ing "Discussions on Abandoning the Pearl Cliffs." Such writings opposed China's efforts to expand her territory and her struggle over land with the southern barbarians, which shows that as early as the Han dynasty China already discouraged war against outsiders and had developed the peace idea to broad proportions.